We Didn’t Leave The Church, The Church Left Us

My daily fishwrap has a front page story on the demise of the Religious Right (I’ve linked to the same story in another, non-firewalled publication, just FYI.) I found the story interesting but it’s also nothing we haven’t talked about here for years.

So, check this out:

Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and a national Religious Right leader, said the election was an “unmitigated disaster.”

He believes the country will become much more secular and look more like Europe. “It is going to be a chastening, humbling moment for American Christians to realize that we are going to be in the position across this country of speaking as a minority,” Mohler said. Today, about 1 in 5 Americans has no religious affiliation.

That doesn’t mean that the faithful will give up on politics or on trying to shape American culture to fit their values. But it does mean they need to pay more attention to the Bible and less to the GOP, said author and speaker Stephen Mansfield.

[...]

To remain relevant, Mansfield said, conservative Christians also have to learn how to express their views in a way that appeals to the general public, not just like-minded believers. They can’t just hold up the Bible and expect people to agree with them, he said.

No, that’s absolutely wrong. The problem is not the way you express your ideas. The problem IS your ideas. Many of which, let me point out, are not even Biblical, nor are they the church’s historical position. For example, back in the ’60s, evangelicals were pro-choice:

In 1968, Christianity Today published a special issue on contraception and abortion, encapsulating the consensus among evangelical thinkers at the time. In the leading article, professor Bruce Waltke, of the famously conservative Dallas Theological Seminary, explained the Bible plainly teaches that life begins at birth:

“God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: ‘If a man kills any human life he will be put to death’ (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22–24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense… Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.”

The magazine Christian Life agreed, insisting, “The Bible definitely pinpoints a difference in the value of a fetus and an adult.” And the Southern Baptist Convention passed a 1971 resolution affirming abortion should be legal not only to protect the life of the mother, but to protect her emotional health as well.

I would love to get my hands on a copy of that vintage 1968 Christianity Today, wouldn’t you? I bet it’s been purged from the archive.

Isn’t that interesting, though, that what is considered a cornerstone of conservative Christianity today — being “pro life” — is a complete reversal of what the church believed 40 years ago? I find that fascinating. I guess, like Scott DesJarlais, conservative Christians have “evolved” on this issue. (Wait — I thought they didn’t believe in evolution?)

The church changed for political reasons, not theological ones. Until Jerry Falwell came along, Christians largely stayed out of politics — it was, in fact, a guiding principle of Southern Baptists and other denominations to not get involved in worldly things like lobbying Congress and launching boycotts and showing up on the evening news in a frothy lather over some imagined offense like a War on Christmas. Falwell changed all of that, and 40 years later the church finds itself no longer relevant. To think these two things aren’t somehow connected is ludicrous.

And before Al Mohler starts fearmongering again about European-style secularism destroying Christianity, he needs to read this old post of mine. I wrote it after another of his anti-Europe rants in 2009:

Mohler and his kind are most ignorant in their favorite tactic of using Western European countries as their warning of what’s in store for America if we don’t DO something, quick, like stop teaching evolution in public schools and outlaw abortion. These folks like to talk about how secular Western Europe is, all the tolerance for nasty things like teh gaii, but they fail to mention that many of their worst secular offenders (Scandinavian countries, for example) have a state religion!

This astonished me when I was in “secular, liberal” Norway last spring. In fact, it was just one year ago next week that the Norwegian government changed its constitution, so that the Lutheran Church is no longer the state religion.

Yes, that’s right, up until last year, every person born in “secular, liberal” Norway was automatically born a Lutheran. If you wanted to raise your kids Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Baptist or atheist, you had to petition the government. Can you believe that?

The Norwegian government still finances the Lutheran Church, and until last year appointed church bishops. In other words, the government had authority over the church. Can you imagine? Can you imagine your tax dollars funding church salaries?

The surest way to kill a religion is to make it your state religion — to remove that wall of separation. A generation ago religious people in this country knew that, they knew the wall separating church and state protected the church from the state, as much as the other way around. But along came Jerry Falwell and the rest of the ignoramuses of the Moral Majority, and here they are.

I find it all incredibly, hilariously ironic.

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45 Comments

Filed under Christianity, religion, religious right

45 responses to “We Didn’t Leave The Church, The Church Left Us

  1. Mike G

    conservative Christians have “evolved” on this issue. (Wait — I thought they didn’t believe in evolution?)

    Well, I wouldn’t call it “intelligent design”.

  2. “To remain relevant, Mansfield said, conservative Christians also have to learn how to express their views in a way that appeals to the general public, not just like-minded believers. They can’t just hold up the Bible and expect people to agree with them, he said.”

    Wait, what? I’m pretty sure that they already do an incredibly good job of lying with a straight face.

    “In other words, the government had authority over the church. Can you imagine? Can you imagine your tax dollars funding church salaries?”

    Well, yeah, they had intended that it be the other way around, church controlling the gummint.

  3. ThresherK

    “It is going to be a chastening, humbling moment for American Christians”

    Yeah, sure it is.

    And by “American Christians” they mean their own particular flavor. All my UU friends are acting much the same now as they did a year ago. Come to think of it, my Jewish friends are too. Not because their side won, but because that’s who they are.

  4. “”“God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed.””

    thank you for this. i wish this christian view were more widely known. it is frustrating to have pro-choice folks act all shocked when i say i’m not opposed to abortions past 3 months. there’s nothing magical about gestational month markers, and “trimesters” are arbitrary.

  5. If you want to find that copy of Christianity Today, you might find it at a library if they store or microfilm the old stuff.

  6. I’m afraid that the “secularization” of the United States will lead it rightward, not leftward. The history of the real country, the people of the country, not the government, shows that in almost every case the strongest force for progressive change has been motivated by religious conviction. The belief that you have to give up things you don’t want to, that you have to do things you don’t want to and you have a binding moral obligation to recognize the needs and rights of people you would either not like or be indifferent to requires a force that can’t be found in sufficient quantities to change behaviors outside of religion. Not for the entire society. The secular government is quite a different thing and, I’d contend, the problem of it pandering to the greed of the powerful is derived, in part, from the suppression of the moral force that used to be provided by people who took what Jesus taught seriously.

    I’ve come to see materialists and biblical fundamentalists as having a lot more in common than they usually admit and am finding, more and more, that what is taken for liberalism among materialists is, really, a mildly indifferent libertarianism which is politically impotent to advance a truly liberal movement. Progress won’t come without the same kind of force that propelled the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s, bringing the last significant period of progress.

    • …in almost every case the strongest force for progressive change has been motivated by religious conviction…

      That certainly used to be true but I don’t think that’s the case any longer. That’s what I meant when I said the church ceased to be relevant when it decided to fight social and cultural change instead of embrace it. The church has changed, that’s the point. “Social justice” is now a pejorative — Glenn Beck told his listeners to leave any church that preaches social justice. Yet that social justice message is what brought about that change in the first place! Perhaps that’s why conservatives like Beck are so scared of it.

      We live in the post-Christian era, that means religion is no longer the dominant factor in social life. Go to Cracker Barrel on Sunday morning and see how many people are enjoying biscuits and gravy instead of a church service. Or, to your point about materialism, go to a any mega-mall or multiplex on Sunday. They are packed. That says it all right there.

      And since you mentioned materialism, one thing I’ve always found interesting is how Jesus’ message was really an anti-consumerism, anti-materialism message. In fact, the Bible has more to say about what we do with our money than what we do with our flesh. And yet, the modern Republican Party is all about keeping the status quo, maintaining income inequality and the systems which oppress the poor. The conservative message is so at odds with the Biblical message that conservatives have had to create their own “conservative Bible translation” because Jesus had to be a free market capitalist or else their entire worldview implodes.

      So no, I don’t see the secularization of the US as making it more conservative. Not when church leaders like Richard Land, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and the rest have co-opted the faith and made it another wing of the Republican Party.

      • It’s one of the problems of talking about “the church” that it really isn’t one thing. Here, in our recent successful marriage equality fight the large number of churches and clergy who supported equality were crucial in convincing people to vote fore equality. Other churches and clergy attacked equality, as they did during the previous referendum that overturned the legalization of gay marriage that had passed the legislature and was signed into law by the governor. In the recent vote, during a general election instead of the special election that overturned equality, it’s clear that the majority who voted for equality were religious believers.

        I’ve seen the increasing secularization of society matched by an increasingly right wing, materialist, self-centered country. In trying for years to find out why the left had stoipped winning, I’ve come to the conclusion that the increasingly anti-religious ethos within it has made the left more unpopular with the general population but it has also tended to undermine or hollow out the focus on justice that is the entire reason for the left to exist and in the basic faith that equality, inherent rights, free will and a binding moral obligation to treat other people well, the prerequisites for liberalism to be valid.

        I thought about the turning point for me, the week of April 28, 2007 on the blog we used to comment on, someone claimed that “science has proven that free will doesn’t exist”. I decided to stop pretending I didn’t notice that materialism destroys the validity of liberalism and the left, only I didn’t realize that’s what I’d decided until earlier this year. I think Jesus said what he did because it was true and what he talked about was the entire basis of democracy and a decent society. Though I’m not what would be called a Christian.

      • “science has proven that free will doesn’t exist”.

        Wow I’m not sure I even understand what that’s supposed to mean.

        Well it’s true, “the church” is not one thing, it’s certainly not the thing the media tells us it is (right wing anti-gay anti-woman bigots). But what’s interesting is that while church membership is down and secularism has increased, people’s belief in God has remained at pretty much the same levels. People will call themselves “spiritual” but not Christian. Perhaps this is because 40 years of a church being against stuff instead of for it has turned people off. No one wants to join their crappy little club. I think the moral underpinnings are still there. People still believe that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people. They believe in right and wrong.

        You might want to read this interview, which I found just fascinating. It’s ostensibly about how the plutocrats think, why they bet so big on Romney and why they really did think they were going to win the election. A fascinating window into the worldview of the super wealthy. It seems relevant to this discussion.

  7. SB, I found that interview very interesting, even fascinating, as you say. Even the comments are good, and some of them actually add to the topic of the interview. Thanks for sharing; it’s a great read.

    I can accept without hesitation that we all view the world from the perspective of our own circumstances. But then, my circumstances haven’t changed all that much over the years. I’ve done somewhat better than my parents did financially, but the margin’s not that great, and probably has more to do with my having only two children, as opposed to five.

  8. democommie

    “The secular government is quite a different thing and, I’d contend, the problem of it pandering to the greed of the powerful is derived, in part, from the suppression of the moral force that used to be provided by people who took what Jesus taught seriously.”

    The U.S. government does not now have, nor has it ever had a charter to be other than “secular”. Your comment is either disingenuous or you have never read the U.S, Constitution.

    “Here, in our recent successful marriage equality fight the large number of churches and clergy who supported equality were crucial in convincing people to vote fore equality.”

    Since we don’t know where, “here” is, there’s really no way to check your claim. If it was in any red state then it’s highly likely they were voting in opposition to their church’s stance.

    “I’ve seen the increasing secularization of society matched by an increasingly right wing, materialist, self-centered country.”

    You need new glasses. The movement of the Overton Window, ever further to the right, has been driven by neo-cons and fundamentalist religiowhackos of one stripe or another–working in concert.Your comment neglects the demonstrable fact that the U,K., France, Italy, Germany and Scandanavia are all “secular”: countries (despite the fact that several of them have official religions) and rightward is not the direction of their slow drift into hell.

    Several countries come to mind when I think of “religious” gummints. Off the top of my head; Russia, Afghanistan and Uganda come to mind. Russia is being run by Putin who’s getting very cozy with the Orthodox Church’s hierarchy (he threw them a nice bone with the “Pussy Riot” trial and conviction). Afghanistan, it’s lie West Virginia on steroids–and just a bit fundy. Uganda, from the madness of Idi Amin Dada to this:

    http://www.wnd.com/2012/11/ugandan-president-repents-of-personal-national-sins/

    Ugandans are being helped along, in their efforts to make being GAY a capital crime, by none other that Scott Lively, a former ReiKKKsminister of the Calfornia KKKlaven of the AmeriKKKanner Family Association AND current president of Abiding Truth Ministries, a lovely Neo-KKKristianist organization in California.

    So, I think you need to spend a little more time studying and a little less time parroting NSK. (the Newnited States of KKKristianity) talking points.

    I know that Southern Beale is a polite and refined person; I am neither where the subject of telling the truth is concerned. What you and your fellows posit as “GOD’s will” is actually “GOD swill”.

    • “Here” is Maine. If you want to get into a contest of allegedly religious vs. atheist atrocities, I raise you North Korea and China. The difference between “Christian” killing and oppression is that it is directly in opposition to the teachings of Jesus and those of his earliest recorded followers. The murders in North Korea, its enforced sexual slavery for the rulers, etc. are not in opposition to any holding of materialism.

      The black churches, Christian churches, were one of the mainstays of the victims of the KKK and other racist gangs and institutions, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was only one of many Christian groups that was at the forefront of the struggle to overturn American apartheid, as Christian churches were involved in the struggle against Apartheid. Perhaps you never heard of Archbishop Tutu.

      • It’s true that the church historically led the way in overturning slavery, Jim Crow, and other institutionalized oppression. But it’s also true that there were plenty of churches on the other side of those same battles, too. And they used Scripture to justify their arguments, as well. And the church was also involved in things like the temperance movement which led to Prohibition. Uganda’s “kill the gays” legislation. The church’s record has been spotty, at best.

        That’s the paradox of the Bible. It can be used to justify everything and anything. Always has been.

  9. democommie

    Southern Beale:

    I rarely follow any of your commentors back to their own blogs. In this case I checked Mr. McCarthy’s. He equates the religious right with the materialist left. You can go there and read it yourself. What he neglects to add is that the religious right’s adherents number in the scores of millions of eligible voters, whereas the “materialist left” with which he equates them are not the left that actually exists but, rather, the leftyboogieman in his head and the true, “radicals” on the left, those who consider other people to be a commodity, number in the scores to hundreds of thousands (and that is a VERY generous estimate).

    Methinks Mr. McCarthy is another of those “fair and balanced” or “fairly unbalanced” Mark Rogers types.

    • You clearly didn’t read what I wrote carefully, I’d suggest you go into my archive and read the post “We are the 1.6%”, from earlyFebruary.

      Though I’m always happy to have someone read my blog, so, thanks. You might also read this post, as you seem to be under the mistaken impression that I’m interested in achieving “balance”.

      http://zthoughtcriminal.blogspot.com/2012/04/life-isnt-machine-it-is-not-book.html

      Considering the plethora of allegedly leftish blogs dedicated to spreading hatred of religion, I’m not going to apologize for making criticism of atheism a major theme of my blog.

  10. democommie

    “I’m not going to apologize for making criticism of atheism a major theme of my blog.’

    Thanks, that pretty much tells me all I need to know. You’re a KKKrisitanist who is afraid to show his true colors.

    The North Koreans, btw, have a State Religion, The Kims.

    The Chinese had Mao as their “god” for years, they were more afraid of him and his legions than anything else. Now they have the curious situation of no state god who’s big enough to make them behave. You also might note that the chinese people have suffered far fewer massive campaigns of killing by their rulers since Mao came to power. From the beginning of chinese history there have been wars of extirpation and extermination with a great many of them overseen by the emperor, a “Son of Heaven”. While post-imperial China has seen numerous bloody purges, they have seen nothing like the wars of attrition that were routinely fought–for about 4000 years–between warring factions. Tieneman Square and the various massaceres of the period since 1948 pale in comparison to the bloodshed that was routine prior to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    The Japanese considered their monarch to be a direct descendant of the Kami (spirits) and in touch with them.

    The Egyptians, the Israelites and most other nations/states up until the 20th century have been run by people who, if not practicing religionists, still offered obeisance and fealty to churches of one sect or other.

    The majority of wars fought on this planet since the beginning of recorded history have been started by aggressors who used their or their opponents religions as grist for the mill.

    Joseph Stalin? he attended a seminary for five years. Hitler?he was a nominal christian. All of the spaniards who raped, looted, murdered, forcibly converted and plundered in Central and South America? Catholics. Catherine DeMidici and Charles IX of France, responsible for ordering the massacere of French Hugenots? Catholics. Their targets? protestants.

    Yeah, religious belief is gonna save us all.

  11. democommie

    Andrew McCarthy:

    Why would I bother to go to your blog? I don’t want to discuss anything with anyone who is as facile a liar as you.

    I’ll make you a deal that works for me. Quit posting crap like you’ve done here and I’ll ignore you.

    Southern Beale:

    “It’s true that the church historically led the way in overturning slavery, Jim Crow, and other institutionalized oppression.”

    In the 50’s and 60’s the churches fighting at the forefront of the civil rights movement were overwhelmingly northern churches, not souther. The SBC was and is a racist group. They’re also horrifically anti-gay and have little or nothing to say about the plight of the immigrants who labor in the fields and factories for slave wages. The RCC is also notable for it’s anti-gay and anti-choice stance. There are a few denominations; UU’s, Episcopalians (at least the ones that haven’t turned into fundie groups), Unity, some Lutherans who DO work for justice. Most of them are peopled by folks who would do the same if they were atheist.

    Here’s a hint for Mr. McCarthy: If you’re good because of GOD, URdoin’itwrong.

    • In the 50′s and 60′s the churches fighting at the forefront of the civil rights movement were overwhelmingly northern churches, not southern.

      That’s only true if you overlook the black churches. Remember, Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher man.

      Demo, I love you, man. But you DO prove what people like Andrew McCarthy (and me) have said about a big chunk of people on the left being hostile to Christianity.

      I’ve been slammed a-plenty for saying this, but it’s true. It’s completely bizarre, liberals are open to Buddhists and Muslims and Native Americans and atheists and Pastafarians and everything else but as soon as someone comes in and says they support X, y, z policy because their Christian faith compels them to, everyone goes batshit and starts screaming about fairy tales and sky gods. They’d never dream of saying such a thing to a Muslim or a Hindu.

      I know the church has asked for a lot of this criticism, I’ve certainly criticized them a-plenty, especially when so-called church folk behave in such un-Christian ways. But pointing out someone has strayed from the path is not the same as saying the path is pointless.

    • I suggested you might want to read what I’d written because you made claims about what I wrote. If you want to misrepresent what I wrote due to you not having read it, there’s nothing I can do to make you want to tell the truth. Some people like to be accurate, other’s don’t figure it’s something they need to be. I’ve found a lot of blog atheists don’t figure they’re required to tell the truth.

  12. democommie

    Southern Beale:

    I have no problem, none whatsoever, with people having faith in whatever deity they wish to believe in.

    I have an enormous problem with ANYONE who thinks that religion has been the thing that has been most uplifting element of human society. That is, quite simply, preposterous. I also consider this statement:

    “The belief that you have to give up things you don’t want to, that you have to do things you don’t want to and you have a binding moral obligation to recognize the needs and rights of people you would either not like or be indifferent to requires a force that can’t be found in sufficient quantities to change behaviors outside of religion.”

    to be an insult , implying that I or anyone else who is “secular” lacks an adequate level of morality to be a decent human being.

    As you point out, in the south, it was the black churches who were those that acted on the issue of civil rights (my bad, I thought that was very self evident). It would be disingenuous to assert that those churches acted purely from a desire to be “good christians”. The pastors of those churches and the willing members of their flocks were, and rightly so, motivated as much by their desire for equal treatment under the law and in society at large as they were by any “christian” impulse. Their commitment to the cause was, in many instances, informed and bolstered by their christian beliefs. It was also a fact that the churches in presenting a generally united front in the battle for civil rights were practicing a form of machine politics. When Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 he was doing so, largely, for personal reasons, including establishing his legacy as a stateman. There was also, of course, the undeniable fact that there was a large bloc of black voters who had been a “swing” constituency for some years; bringing them to the side of the democrats was also a factor in his using his skills as a former majority leader to help pass both the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts.

    Throughout the period from the 1830’s until at least 1965 many southern churches’ religious leaders used their pulpits to agitate AGAINST equality for non-white U.S. citizens. Wallace, Maddox, Helms, Thurmond and hundreds of other prominent segregationists—all professed Christians—fought against the notion that black Americans were equal to whites.

    At present, those same black christian churches are among the most resistant to the notion that teh GAY have an expectation of and deserve equal civil and legal rights with the rest of U.S. residents. I find that stance–and it is based, by them, on their “Christian” faith–
    hypocritical and deeply offensive.

    I am friends with and related to many self-professed Christians. I view their actions and hear them speak and find them to be no better or worse than any of my atheist or agnostic friends. Otoh, I find the churches to which a number of them belong—the RCC, Baptist, Mormon and a number of fundamental evangelical congregations to be anything but honest, compassionate and inclusive.

    If Mr. McCarthy wants to think that HE cannot function as a decent human being in society without being prompted/compelled to do so by his Christian faith, that would be his problem. I don’t need GOD or any supernatural agency in my life to make me do what’s right or to know the difference between right and wrong.

    I don’t hate Christians. I despise organized religion, of every variety.

    And, I have no time for KKKristianist apologia, regardless its source.

    • I notice that the passage of what I wrote that you took such offense from is an example of what some call “quote mining”. You stop short of this sentence “Not for the entire society.” I don’t believe a society that believes there is no, real moral obligation to observe the rights of other people will have laws that require that. Where is that supposed to come from without that? I know atheists who are quite moral but the couple of times I’ve asked, they couldn’t support their moral stands with the materialism they claimed as their foundation.

      If you read my blog you would find several instances when I’ve quoted anti-religious bloggers who deny that free will, morality, good and evil are real, I’ve read that kind of stuff from atheists for decades and overlooked the obvious meaning of it for societies, history and governments. If inherent rights are as real as pink unicorns, celestial teapots, etc. then there is no real moral obligation for someone to respect those rights. In that case the only limits on what people want to do is whatever they figure they can get away with. I’d welcome an explanation of why that isn’t true.

      I’m not going to apologize for believing that what atheists say is what they mean and to follow those statements to their logical conclusion. Especially as atheists generally claim that’s what they want. Only, clearly, not really.

      I can tell you how Lester Maddox, Jesse Helms, etc. were in violation of the teachings of Jesus, as many in their times did, quite publicly. I’d like to know how they were in violation of the holdings of materialism. Seriously. Tell me how practicing racial segregation and oppression is a violation of materialism.

      • Oh, and as a point of information, I should point out that I’m a gay man who has been out of the closet on that point since about three decades before I first started commenting online. If there are black ministers who are opposed to civil rights for glbt people, there are also atheists who have. And there are also black and other Christians who have strongly supported us. The Rev. Martin Luther King jr, famously hired Bayard Rustin when he was rejected by some quite secular civil rights leaders because of his conviction on a “morals” charge. The late Rev. Gomes at Harvard is another who comes to mind as Bishop Robinson and a host of others who could be named.

  13. democommie

    McCarthy:

    You keep throwing shit against the wall, hoping that something will stick. You still subscribe to the notion that, without a GODcrutch I can’t be moral? Fuck you, you arrogant GOPbot piece of shit. Is that clear enough for you?

    • You keep trying to insult me, attributing ideas to me that I’ve never endorsed and refusing to answer the points I’ve made. I’m not surprised, I’ve yet to meet an atheist who can answer them. And yet you wonder why I’ve come to the conclusion that atheism, at least in its most common, materialist form is entirely destructive of the basis of liberalism and democracy, not to mention something as basic as that we are morally obligated to observe each other’s inherent rights on an equal basis. Atheism can’t take those as being any more real than the God that many of us really believe is the author of those things and whose morality we sometimes succeed in following. Doing unto others as we would have done unto us is the rock bottom basis of democracy.

      GOPbot? A gay, socialist, leveler? The only reason that I’m not saying “Republican-fascist” as I usually do is the stated house rules here. I’m critical of President Obama because he’s far, far to conservative for me. The major reason I participate in blogging is that the left should be crushing the Republicans at the ballot box and it has been failing to do that since 1968, the year that the Reverend Martin Luther King jr. was murdered and the period when religion went silent and anti-religious loudmouths took the microphone and started spewing an anti-liberal, elitist pseudo-liberalism in place of what worked before so many of them turned neo-con and supported the worst of the Republicans like Christopher Hitchens. The real left will never succeed until we’ve dumped them and have gone back to the real and reliable basis of liberalism that led to the last significant period of progress. We aren’t going to get there on Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and so many other current atheist substitutes denying that those things are as imaginary as they assert God. The vast majority of people when presented with that idea see, first and foremost, that they’re allowed to do anything they can get away with. The “liberals” and even more the “leftists” who hold that are the first ones to turn like the elite in China and the Soviet Union have. Atheism is no basis for real democracy. That’s what the history of it with political control shows.

      • Oh, I should add that though I’m critical of President Obama, he has done what the anti-religious, would-be, never will win an election left has never done, he has changed some laws for the better and actually improved peoples’ lives. In the most real of terms, real life, he is infinitely more radical than the play left who predominate in so many of the leftish blogs. I’m hoping that a real-left with dump the play left and start convincing the large majority of people whose religious professions naturally lead to the left instead of the right.

  14. i’m a christian and a liberal, and -tho i admit i don’t get out much any more- i don’t feel very safe voicing liberal political views at church. my experience is that my churched friends are the ones most likely to tell me that obama is a kenyan-born baby-killing muslim socialist, that i am surely doomed to everlasting torment for voting for him, that obamacare is a sure sign of the coming end of this great nation, that any kind of government welfare for the poor is “redistribution of wealth” and is unbiblical and unchristian… they are not open to discussion on _any_ of this. this is my consistent personal experience starting back when bill clinton first ran.

    if atheism is bad for democracy, charitable living and acknowledging others’ rights, i haven’t seen it. what i have seen is christians acting with a self-centeredness that seems to put unregulated capitalism above the gospel, desire for wealth above charity, and adherence to certain political views as requirements for salvation. They seem to take such _joy_ in condemning me to hell for disagreeing with their politics!

    i agree with the title of this post. i didn’t leave the church; the church left me.

    • I’m not advocating anyone be a member of a church. It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago while arguing about the percentages in the PEW survey that I’d be included in the “unaffiliated” group so often claimed by blog atheists as all being in their group. I don’t belong to a church. Most of the members of the “unaffiliated” group in the PEW study were religious but not members of a congregation.

      But if your church left you and you still want to belong to a church there are plenty of churches to find a better fit in. I’d be pretty happy with most of the UCC churches around here or the Quaker meetings or the Roman Catholic Women Priests who aren’t around here. At one time I was considering attending the nearest Masorti temple, I liked the rabbi.

      • i’m currently affiliated and am not looking for church recommendations, but thx.

      • It’s true that one can “shop around and find the church that fits,” but it’s harder than it sounds (there’s a LOT of stuff that goes into finding a church home, some thing as banal as, do you like the music and are worship times convenient?). I just feel like if churches stayed true to the Scriptures one wouldn’t have to do that in the first place. I’m sure those churches feel the same way about me, that I’m the one who’s strayed. Institutionalized religion is made by people and people are flawed, we all get that. But institutionalized religion is also how the religion thing has been done for 2,000 years.

        I think the church as an institution is dying though, and what we’re seeing in the political realm by church leaders is a reaction to that. There is a very human, ego-driven impulse to protect the institution, instead of build the Kingdom, as they say.

  15. democommie

    Anthony McCarthy:

    Your schtick is crap (and you probably know it) and it isn’t gonna sell me or anyone else that knows how to think for themselve.

    You’re gay and you support the KKKristianist anti-gay ministers who number in the hundreds–at the very least? Or do you pick and choose the christians you’ll have a “dialogue” with.

    “If there are black ministers who are opposed to civil rights for glbt people, there are also atheists who have.”

    Name them. Put up or shut up, you lying sack of shit.

    You keep insisting that atheists can’t be decent human beings. I don’t give a flying fuck how you phrase it, it’s a load of bullshit. Totalitarians are totalitarians. All of the murderous governments ARE totalitarian–it’s how they work. And the overwhelming majority of them have been led by believers. You can be as sanctimonious as the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin. In the end, it wasn’t the atheists who killed your boy, JESUS, but the Romans (at the behest of his co-religionists who thought he was getting out of line with their program for keeping the sheeple in line) once again showing us the love and mercy they’ve accumulated by being believers.

    You need GOD to be good? Have at it. I don’t and your continued insistence that I do is an insult. Fuck you, keep your false humility and piety–I don’t need it. Pray for yourself, you smarmy asshole.

    BTW, if you want to get a real earful, head over here (http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp) or here (http://freethoughtblogs.com/aronra) or here (http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula) or here
    (http://freethoughtblogs.com/rodda)

    They’ll be more than happy to let you be as big an idiot as you are here, but they will also point and laugh themselves sick.

    I tried to make it clear to you, earlier in the thread, but you apparently can’t read for comprehension, so I’ll say it again, more slowly.

    I don’t care what YOU believe but since you insist on spewing your shit here I will be giving you same until you stop doing it or until I get banned.

    Is that clear, moron?

    • You know, democommie, that kind of rhetoric is generally a sign of having got nothin’. Which is generally what your side has. If you want to pursue that line, go to my blog and I can assure you I can return better than you can give.

      • Oh, and there is no place online where they’re better at telling people how they are to think than the very ironically named “Freethought” blogs. ThoughtPolice Blogs are more like it.

      • I don’t understand what you fail to understand in what I said. Materialism holds that only physical objects and forces are real. If they can’t locate inherent rights and a moral obligation to respect those rights when you’d rather not within the things they say are the only real things then rights and the requirement to respect them are as imaginary as they hold God to be.

        When atheistic regimes are in control, from the Reign of Terror, to the Calles regime in Mexico, to Stalin and the puppets he installed in Eastern Europe, Mao, and on to the present day governments in North Korea and China, there is virtually a 100% record of brutal and frequently bloody dictatorships. While I’d never claim that clergy and other’s who profess religion all have clean hands, the record of governments in the hands of Christians and others is certainly less bloody and dictatorial, taken in total. That’s a matter of historical record. If you want to deny that those dictatorships didn’t exist, I don’t know how I could convince you. Maybe you should look them up online. You could start with Jean-Baptiste Carrier and read up till today with those named governments. Then you might look at the number of European countries with state religions that are some of the most democratic and least oppressive countries in the world today.

        I’m not making this up, you know. And I’m not ignoring what’s there in plain sight for anyone to see and admit.

  16. “Your schtick is crap”

    “…got nothin’. Which is generally what your side has…”

    i’m following this thread, and it’s like watchin’ a ping-pong match:

    1: your ideas are crap.
    2: no, _your_ ideas are crap.
    1: you got nothing.
    2: no, _you_ got nothing.

    yet i can’t seem to look away.

    • I used to just let them play pong but I decided my side could use a lot more ping than it gets on the lefty blogs. When that happens their pong often turns out to be more wrong.

      • imho, you are not helping your cause, but i’m not tryin’ to stop you.

      • My cause is to answer this kind of thing. It’s something I learned is better than silence from being a gay man in the 1960s. I’m not ceding leftist public discourse to atheists. Other people can do what they think is best, that’s what I think is.

      • “My cause is to answer this kind of thing.” “I’m not ceding leftist public discourse to atheists.”

        we obviously differ on what constitutes an “answer” and how to define “discourse”. i just can’t see how insisting that atheists are just as bad as christians and sometimes worse answers anything. i don’t understand how “am not. are too” “you’re bad. you’re worse” can be described as “discourse”.

        but, honestly, it’s fascinating to watch somehow. i just don’t see how you can think you’re accomplishing anything constructive.

    • My contention is that materialism can’t hold that those basic aspects of morality I listed above are any more than imaginary. I’ve never found a materialistic account of how they were as real as atoms and molecules. Christianity and the Jewish tradition it is a branch of can account for the reality of those things, holding them to be as real as anything else in the universe. Christians and others might not be especially good at living up to their professed beliefs but at least they can hold those to be real and binding and to, ultimately, have real consequences. Atheism can’t do that.

      I contend that the history of atheists who have had control of governments is objectively worse, in total, than the record of people who professed religion with political power. 100% bloody dictatorships vs. less than 100% bloody dictatorships. I’m not pretending that’s not the record that you could expect from an ideology that really is amoral at its very base. As I wrote at one of the links I gave above, Hitler might have pretended to be a follower of Jesus but he was absolutely in violation of his teachings. Stalin rejected the teachings of Jesus in favor of materialism and his record of mass slaughter and oppression are not at odds with the materialism he professed. I’m through with pretending not to notice that kind of thing anymore. The people Stalin killed are as murdered as the ones who died in the Crusades, only Jesus wouldn’t have approved of the Crusades, I’ve known plenty of atheists who have justified the record of Stalin and others. Corliss Lamont, among them.

      • “I contend that the history of atheists who have had control of governments is objectively worse, in total, than the record of people who professed religion with political power.”

        i’m not finding your contention that they have more evil on their side than you do on yours to be particularly convincing that your side is actually any better.

        i’m not comforted by your contention that all those evil people who claimed to be christian weren’t _really_ christian, and i’m not much impressed by the argument that “Jesus wouldn’t have approved”.

        i realize you’re claiming atheists have no way to somehow prove they have a philosophical basis for acting like decent human beings (at least that sounds to me like what you’re claiming). i’m not sure how any of what you’ve said supports your contention.

        i’d be interested in knowing why atheism is so important to you. i find christianity to be difficult enough without meddling in other folks’ (lack of) beliefs.